new years realism – on unsustainable willpower and sustainable goals.

I’m not much of one for New Years’ resolutions anymore.

I understand New Years. I think that humans like to have a proverbial turning of the page, albeit arbitrary. And New Years is that – arbitrary. It only marks that 365 days have passed – nothing more. I think that the reason we created hours, days, weeks, months, years, etc. is that 1. it helps us organize and 2. time is so infinite (in a certain sense) that we can’t contain it – so we contain it to the degree that we can.
And people, as moral creatures, like that. I think we like the rotation of the sun because it gives us a chance to “sleep on it” when making a decision or dealing with a frustrating situation. We like it because when we’ve run into a lot of failure in a single day, we can wake up to a new sunrise, a different (hopefully) set of events, etc.

It makes sense.

But here’s where that frustrates me – we’re good at days, we’re okay at weeks, we’re weaker with months, and we’re shit with years.

Everyone I know who works out diligently dreads January – because suddenly the gym will be full of wannabes who swear that this is the year they get in shape. Restaurants and coffee shops expect a dip in sales because of people who will be watching their weight. People do a lot of preparation because this time, it’ll finally happen – but people have unsustainable goals and create ridiculous expectations.

Somewhere along the line, people lost the idea of baby steps.

Habits start with choices, and choices happen often – but habits can’t be turned around all of a sudden. Think of it like you’re resetting a clock – if you turn the hands slowly and steadily, you can set the time. But you can’t just take it from 3:15 to 3:30 without steady movement. You have to ease it that way, taking it minute by minute, and then it’ll be good.

Here’s what I’m saying: a habit is the culmination of hundreds if not thousands of choices. Instead of going from making all bad choices (operationally, we’ll call a “bad choice” a choice that doesn’t fit your desired habit) to making all good choices, why don’t you slowly start to infect the plethora of bad choices with good ones (ones that fit your desired habit)?

For example:

Instead of trying to work out 5 days a week in January, why not make it your goal to work out 5 days a week by the end of the year? So maybe some weeks in January you work out 3 times, sometimes none. But you start to make it a habit. Then in February, at least a weekly trip to the gym is in your mind. Okay, cool – now build on that. Then, as you go more regularly because you’re thinking about it, it becomes a habit.

Here are some things to keep in mind as/if you make resolutions:

-Leave yourself room for failure, because
-you will fail. it’s in our hard-wiring to screw up. accept that. it’s okay. it’s normal.
-steadily change – don’t try to change all at once.
-make a comprehensive year-end goal, not something to do all-year that you’re going to start out of nowhere.
-make little goals that serve a bigger goal.
-Choose goals that are reachable and sustainable – base these off of things you know others do and have ways of managing.
-in that vein of thinking, gradually manage it. it’s not going to come all at once.

see a pattern here? take it easy. take it one choice at a time, one step at a time. bit by bit. that’s the only we can change.

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